Thanks to Bethenny Frankel and the Kardashians, reality television is no longer just a genre of television populated by exhibitionists for us to laugh at—now it's part of a larger business plan and when used correctly, can make reality stars very wealthy. Television is powerful enough to really move products off of shelves and fame—however minor—is powerful enough to really delude people into thinking they're influential enough to to sell microwaveable cheeseburgers, portable stripper poles, and high-end skin care products for pets. Here are some of our favorite attempts at "branding."
Bethenny Frankel was the first to use non-competition based reality television as a means to an end. Having sold her Skinny Girl Cocktails for a reported $100 million she's the gold standard, and who all other Real Housewives are emulating when rolling out their own clothing, makeup, and alcohol lines. But even Bethenny has made some missteps. Did you know that she's selling pony tails? Selling shapewear seemed to make sense for her brand, but this Fantasy Apron makes no sense. And while most shapewear isn't sexy and most lingerie isn't exactly practical, this article of clothing seems to magically combine the two.
Cindy Rodeo Steedle is maybe the best thing to happen to the VH1 "Of Love" universe, since the Rock of Love star continues to try and build an "empire" like five years after her show as on the air. First she marketed BBQ sauce and "healthy sausage." And who could forget her attempt at waterproof jeans? When those didn't work out, she took at stab at a natural soaps line and then vintage bird feeders. Her latest—and our favorite—venture is sneakers and cowboy boots, hand-painted with anti-bullying messages.
The Situation is apparently very rich. Or actually, he was rich. He reportedly blew through the fast cash he earned through a book deal, club appearances, and some supposed endorsements that never really panned out. That's OK, because he will always have his laundry bag income to fall back on.
The knee-jerk reaction to seeing Kendra Wilkinson selling a portable stripper pole is perhaps a snicker. But this is actually some marketing that makes a lot of sense. I mean, what else is she gonna sell? PSAT prep course books?
Did you know that Katie Price AKA Jordan is an avid horseback rider? Noticing the lack of glamorous equestrian clothing, she developed her own line of sparkly and pink products for both horse and rider.
Hulk Hogan claims that the George Foreman Grill endorsement deal was originally offered to him, but that he hadn't responded in time, and the company moved on and gave the deal to Foreman. Watching the enormous success of the appliance must've chapped his ass because it seems like Hulk is trigger happy when it comes to associating himself with food products, like this line of microwaveable cheeseburgers being sold at Walmart.
Even though it's the reality branding effort that's been around the longest, Paris Hilton's empire is a lot quieter than say Bethenny Frankel's or the Kardashians'. For one thing, do you personally know anybody that ever bought her extensions, false lashes, press-on nails, handbags, watches, canned Prosecco, or shoes? Still, there appears to be a demand for her products evidenced by the nine fragrances she has on the market. But one of her weirdest launches in recent years has been her own motorcycle racing team called "SuperMartxe VIP by Paris Hilton."
Prince Lorenzo Borghese, star of the ninth season of The Bachelor, comes from a very old royal Italian family, and is supposedly related to Napoleon's sister and a pope. With his "pedigree" being the most important part of his resume, maybe it makes sense that he ended up going into business for fancy dogs. Prince Lorenzo founded Royal Treatment Italian Pet Spa, a high-end line of bath, body, and skin care products for pets. One bottle of dog shampoo costs $54.95.
Seeing as how her fellow New York City Housewife Bethenny Frankel made a killing in the booze biz, Ramona Singer decided to cash in on that action and created her own Ramona Pinot Grigio. While it does make sense as a branding decision—Ramona has made her love of Pinot Grigio very well known over the years on The Real Housewives—it's unlikely that she'll ever receive the kind of pay day Bethenny did. Ramona just released a vanity wine, whereas Bethenny's line of Skinny Girl Cocktails filled an absence in the market and created a genre in the liquor industry of low calorie drinks.
Jersey Shore's JWoww is most well known for two things: Her big giant boobs. So why not use them to sell something like bikinis? But JWoww's bikinis are unique in that you can remove the straps from the tops, which, through scientific advances, still manage to cling to the breasts. The result is minimal tan lines and decency.
Running on that hamster wheel of paying off her bankruptcy debt and maintaining the lifestyle she could never afford to begin with, Teresa Giudice is hard at work selling anything, from cookbooks to jewelry to kids accessories. But perhaps her most honest marketing approach is the one she's employing for PearlBrite Concepts, an at-home teeth whitening kit. In the ads for the bleaching kits she's quoted as saying, "PearlBrite is an amazing business opportunity!"
Last year, Rob Kardashian revealed to HuffPo that he was planning on launching a luxury sock line, saying, "This is something I have been wanting to do. I don't care for it to be a 'Kardashian' thing. I haven't made a final decision with the name, but I have no intention of doing something in front of the camera for monetary gain." Cut to a few months later, and his plans for his sock empire are featured on an episode of Khloe and Lamar, proving that the "Kardashian thing" of "doing something in front of the camera for monetary gain" is really the only way to get his sock line up and running. Still, it's important that he is so dedicated to the endeavor. Passionate, even. "II am very passionate about it and I think guys and girls agree with me. Plus you can give your dress socks to your girlfriend when she sleeps over."